May 11, 1999
Upstate priorities: brownfield
legislation, worker training
Walsh testifies on why upstate lags and what it needs to catch up
New worker training programs and brownfield redevelopment incentives would help bolster the upstate economy, Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh told an Assembly hearing in Albany Tuesday.
Walsh testified at one of four hearings on the upstate economy being held this month in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany, chaired by Assembly members Robin Schimminger and Joseph Morelle.
Walsh praised lawmakers for their important actions the last few years, such as tax cuts, workers' comp and unemployment insurance reform and the new Power for Jobs program.
But upstate is responding more slowly than downstate to these actions, he added, citing three factors:
. The early-90s recession forced many upstate plants to close forever. Downstate also had consolidations and layoffs, but employers there generally rehired after the recession.
. New York City is "a one-of-a-kind business location," and, in a global boom, that distinctiveness helps it. Upstate, in contrast, competes with many states with similar assets.
. Upstate is manufacturing-intensive, and manufacturing is especially sensitive to business costs.
Walsh cited many business costs critical to manufacturers that are still far above average in New York:
Total taxes: In 1996, New York still had the highest state and local tax burden among the 10 largest states, 56 percent above the nine other states' average. Recent cuts have narrowed the gap but not closed it, he said.
Property taxes: New York's are $25 billion more than they would be if the state was just at the national average.